Even in an election where Republicans appeared headed to lose their House majority, the Senate was much safer territory for the GOP, as the Democrats had to defend 25 Senate seats to just 10 for the Republicans. Republicans capitalized on that, picking up seats in Indiana and North Dakota and shooting down several of the Democrats’ top challengers for contested seats in places like Tennessee.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat in a heavily Trump-supporting state, held his Senate seat, defeating Republican Patrick Morrisey. Manchin is nominally a Democrat, but his resistance to the current administration has been lukewarm at best and nonexistent at worst, signified by key votes like his support forconfirming Brett Kavanaugh.
In North Dakota, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp lost her Senate seat in a close contest with Republican Kevin Cramer. Heitkamp was a centrist Democrat in a Trump-leaning state, but the polls looked far worse for her going into the election, particularly after Heitkamp announced her opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Heitkamp’s first election to the Senate in 2012 leaned heavily on Native voters, which she promptly abandoned through silence during the Standing Rock protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline and inaction on the state’s discriminatory voter ID laws.
In Texas, the O’Rourke-Cruz race came to a thrilling tragic end for Democrats, whose long-shot hopes in Texas fell short.
The GOP’s continued control of the Senate gives them a legislative buffer between the House, which appears slated to go to the Democrats.
Republican control of the Senate was instrumental in several key victories for the Trump administration, most notably the confirmation of both Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. With it still firmly in Republican control, Democrats will have to wait until at least 2020 to try to make any gains, although their chances will likely be slightly better in some races due to higher turnout in a presidential year and the fact that Republicans will be defending 22 seats as opposed to the Democrats’ 12.
Until then, however, at least one half of Congress is staying red.